OPEN LETTER TO NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA II
Dear Fellow Nigerian in Diaspora,
It is difficult not to be a pain to other fellow nationals when one considers the many urgent issues facing our nations and her peoples that are daily calling for our immediate attention and actions. It is now almost fourteen years that the military institution was removed from direct governance of Nigeria but the civil administration under the indirect governance and covert supervision of retired military personnel that promised so much has not faired any better. All the socio-economic and political calamities that Nigerians experienced in the past are still very much around and even worse.
It is easy for some of us outside the range of fire to criticise and to throw the occasional stones of derision at those under the full force of the heat and fire of mismanagement. Unfortunately, all our armchair philosophising, erudite scholarships and theoretical expertise do not seem to be solving the problems on the ground. If we may ask again, what are the problems that have resisted every diagnostic prescription on offer, which foreign Nigerians airmailed, ‘Interneted’, faxed or forwarded to Nigeria?
Briefly, Why is Nigeria ungovernable? Why is Nigeria heavily and irreconcilably polarised on many fronts? Why have government machineries in Nigeria turned into profitable conduit pipes for financial fraud and embezzlement? Why is it so easy for hoodlums, gangsters and scallywags of all shades and colours to successively hijack the political institutions time after time in Nigeria? Why is knowledge, compassion, truth and justice in such a short supply in Nigeria?
The list of the problems is long but broadly speaking if we can find answers to the above, it will definitely throw some light on our very dark world. We raised the why-questions not the how or who or which or what or when-questions because the why question has a tendency to cut deep down into the motives behind the ignoble actions. At this stage, the motive that spurs Nigerian to commit such mayhems as we read about everyday is more important to the solution than who did it. What is his ethnic background? How, when, or where did he/she do it?
It is this singular objective to find answers to the above questions that informed the decision of this writer to be a bother on Nigerians in Diaspora. This is because you are at a vantage position to see Nigeria more clearly than those at home. It is presumed that your distances from home ought to give unique advantages for a more rational and objective analysis and synthesis of the problems of Nigeria.
For example, how many of us have arrived, through scientific and philosophical reflections at a Eureka point of awareness that none of us can do a better job than those occupying the position of President, Governors, Chairmen, Cabinet Members, Members of Assemblies, or Permanent Secretaries? Has it occurred to some of our erudite scholars abroad that a designed system or a natural environment has the power to condition and to determine the nature and limit of the functional performances of its attributes? Has it dawned on some of us that the problems of Nigeria at this point in history might be beyond the sad and foolish individuals in position of power as a result of the overbearing political, economic and social environment or structures in place? This writer calls the groups of Nigerian managing the affairs of the country sad and foolish because they lay claim to leadership roles without having knowledge or understanding of its meaning and responsibilities.
The first letter to Nigerians in Diaspora was an alarm about the need to set into motion the preparation for eventual homecoming. But it will be suicidal for any Nigerian who is comfortably placed in the Diaspora to go home under the present climate in Nigeria. It would indeed be an act of utter foolishness. The security and preservation of one’s life is the first duty commanded by natural law to every living creature in the universe. Every activity of a living organism is geared towards the preservation of life. Therefore, the call for preparation to go home should be handled with great care and loads of common sense. Although, the call to relocate might come to some of us at anytime, yet there are some things that needed doing before any of us should answer such calls.
The problems of Nigeria are the problems of individuals. It is a simple deductive fact that the aggregated problems of individuals translate into national problems. If this supposition is true, then the next step is to discover what exactly is wrong with each of us. To many of us the answer is simple since the first thing that comes to mind is ego, owo, kudi, money. And this is where we all went wrong.
Money has become a screen and an obstacle against deep analytical reflection. As soon as we turned on our reasoning process, money comes head-on to distort the trend and flow of pure analysis. We all know money can solve many material problems but the real problem facing Nigeria and Nigerians is spiritual. Every Nigerian believes seriously in the dictum that says, “Seek first the kingdom of mammon and its wickedness, and all these things (political power, material properties, grand positions of honour and fame, etc.) shall be added to you.” Fortunately, money has no role to play in the kind of problem facing Nigeria. In fact, money is the main obstacle.
This writer discovers after due enlightenment that every Nigerian is weak and poor in spirit. Each of us is addicted to one or all the seven vices in different degrees. These vices, which the sages called soul killers are pride, sloth, envy, avarice, gluttony, anger and lust. These individual ailments have metamorphosed into deadly and complex national problems.
Unfortunately, we are a religious nation and our beliefs, rituals and worships are supposed to have cured us of the poisons of these spiritual diseases. If we are going to be truthful to ourselves, we shall agree that religions, as we practised them in every corner of Nigeria, have failed the nationals and the nations.
Wait a minute before you fall off your chair. This writer is aware that most of you are super-sensitive to the word religion. Your antennae, which have been passively following this discourse, must be at full alert by now. As usual, as a fundamentalist believer of your faith, you are on the ready to do battle with this infidel or unbeliever. This writer has no qualm about raising this essential fact of life here and now because of its debilitating effect on our perception of truth and reality.
Dear Fellow Nigerian in Diaspora, the issues being raised under this discourse call for your full attention. You should turn your sojourn in foreign land that has caused you some losses in human dignity and self-respect into an opportunity for the search of a cure for the vices mentioned above. This writer has an unalloyed faith in the power of knowledge as a cure for the diseases of ignorance.
All the vices mentioned above have something to do with a lack of understanding of what and who you are as a creature designed, formed and constructed in eternity. This writer will urge you to please begin today on the trail of the search for true knowledge about yourself.
Discover the beauty and uniqueness of your anatomy, physiology and personality as a human being. Discover the immense potential of the mental, intellectual and spiritual faculties at your disposal. Broaden your horizon farther than the materials in the holy books. Develop interest and love for all books and learn to appreciate and respect every book as equally holy and precious. Learn to be a seeker and as Prophet Mohammed said, ‘Search for knowledge to the end of the world.’
Fellow Nigerian, you are at the end of your own world, how far are you prepared to utilise the wonderful facilities – Internet, Library, Museums, Bookshops, etc. around you for this sacred task. Please spread your wings and fly. Stop being a chicken when you are an eagle. Learn to fly, fly and fly until you conquer ignorance and foolishness in your life. We sincerely believe only the fruits of truth and knowledge can set each of us free.
What we are saying in this discourse is that there is a need to undertake an unstructured course in private education for self-discovery. Enrol into the school of seeker of truth that pertains to the meaning of life. Your lesson should start with a desire to know and understand who you are – your strength and weakness. It is the first step towards rebirth, consciousness and enlightenment.
There are some battles we need to fight for Nigeria but before then we need to fight the battle against personal ignorance, against the shackles around our souls, against the vices in our bodies and against the dark emptiness in our minds. As a matter of fact, this is the only battle worth fighting. It is called a battle for self-enlightenment or for the re-birth of the soul.
This battle is not a particularly difficult battle and this is talking from personal experience. This writer was the dumbest of the dumb a few years ago. As a dumb civil servant I was daily striking my head against brick wall as I struggled to make my work relevant to the problems of Nigeria. It was the June 12th episode that woke me up to my sad situation as an ignorant collaborator in the rape of a nation. The need to find answers to why I was grossly inept as a civil servant was a revelation that struck me from the blues. The opportunity to leave Nigeria at the time I did was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I threw myself headlong into the search for answers to my personal circumstances as an ignorant fool. It took seven years to discover myself. If you find my writings interesting and readable, it has not always been like that. It is a testimony to the power of knowledge when it is sincerely sought.
Dear friend, your journey should not take as long as mine took. You cannot be as stupid as I was. You are a more intelligent person by the look of things. By your ability to conquer the legal and economic huddles in the land of your sojourn is a proof that you are quite bright, though foxy-bright.
Therefore, in the search for the discovery of your soul, the engine of your life, it should not take that long. Please begin today to seek and search for true knowledge and I believe the true teacher that brings rebirth and enlightenment to humankind is closer today than ever before to the continent of Africa. The strong desire of your soul for self-discovery or rebirth is the only condition you have to fulfil and the spirit of truth is ready to take over the programme of your education and training from then on.
In the first letter, we mentioned that unless Nigerians cultivate the habit of seeking truth and knowledge that the problems of Nigeria shall have no cure. Nigeria has a highly educated population. Scholars abound in every nook and corner of the land with prestigious certificates, diplomas and degrees, which they love to wear as a veritable ornament for self-recognition and to curry special treatment and privileges. The question is, why have these erudite men and women failed in the application of knowledge to solve national, social, economic and political problems? The reason is obvious. It is because the foundation on which our scholars built their knowledge is one that rests on the philosophy of ‘Might is Right’.
The Nigerian educated elites believe in the might of intelligence to claim as a right every juicy privilege in the polity. It is similar to those who believe in the ‘might of brawn is right’ or in the right of the head-hunting power of their ancestors or of their own to lay claim to every over-the-top privilege in the land. With this philosophy, hard work is no longer a friend of Nigerians. Certificate as a passport for privileges is the driving force for the pursuit of knowledge. It does not even matter if the holder of the certificate purchased it with money in the market place. The presentation of that illusory commodity is all that you need to enjoy a privileged charmed position in Nigeria. As a result, the awakening of the soul that should follow naturally when one seeks knowledge faithfully is drastically missing among the Nigerian educated elite.
This writer hopes to awaken each of us to the fundamental truth of the missing and weakest links in the search for solutions to our national problems. Each of us is the missing link as well as the weakest link. The solution lies in our hands as we make effort to mend the missing and the weak fences. Do not go too far in your search for solutions. Focus attention on yourself. For now, forget about the scallywags in Abuja and in all the capital towns of our States and Local Governments. Do battle with your vices and the spirit of truth shall give you the strength and the wisdom to overcome.
The summary of this letter is an invitation calling on you to become a seeker after truth. Like the scripture admonished, “Seek first the kingdom of God [Knowledge] and its righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] shall be added to you.”
Please remember Knowledge is God/Power. May the spirit of truth help all sincere seekers to understand the true meaning of life.
In the Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
A Concerned Nigerian